Program on Neanderthals to show a more sophisticated side


KINGSLAND — The common perception of Neanderthals was that of the caveman. You know, the brooding, stooped-over brute usually dragging a club behind him.

Over the past decades, and particularly the last one, the idea of Neanderthals resembling that caricature has changed to one that more resembles modern humans.

“If you basically put clothes on a Neanderthal, he would probably look just like somebody on the street,” said Chuck Hixson of the Llano Uplift Archeological Society. And, Hixson added, if you’re of European or some Asian ancestry, you probably share between 1 percent and 4 percent of your genetic makeup with Neanderthals.

On May 13 at the Nightengale Archaeological Center, 201 Circle Drive in Kingsland, LUAS is hosting noted archaeologist Craig Mayer, who will present “Neanderthal Intelligence and the Mousterian Tradition” at 7 p.m. The event is free to the public.

Hixson said anybody with an interest in Neanderthals or history should enjoy the program.

“I think people who are interested in human origin, history or archaeology would like this,” he said. “A lot of us have a little bit of Neanderthal in us.”

The idea of Neanderthals lacking intelligence came about after the first fossil of them was found in the 1860s.

“But a lot has changed since then,” Hixson said. “There’s been more items found that have helped reshape how we think of Neanderthals.”

Archaeologists and anthropologists found that Neanderthals created excellent stone, wood and bone tools. The stone culture became known as Mousterian.

During their existence, which lasted several hundred thousand years, Neanderthals evolved into a sophisticated and well-developed culture. Researchers believe they adapted to environmental and other changes and challenges. Neanderthals existed in Europe and parts of Asia Minor, Hixson noted.

Eventually, as modern humans came about, the Neanderthals faded, eventually disappearing altogether about 30,000 years ago.

With the exception of the 1-4 percent of Neanderthal genetic material many people carry around inside them today.

“Craig is a great speaker,” Hixson said about the presenter. “I think people will find this a very interesting presentation.”

The Nightengale Archaeological Center is located between Granite Shoals and Kingsland off RR 1431. At the Twin Isles community, just east of Kingsland, take CR 126 off RR 1431. A small sign with “LUAS” points people to the first right with a second “LUAS” sign directing people to the left and the facility.

Call Hixson at (325) 423-0379 for more information on this presentation or LUAS.

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